Web services choreography group kicks off

Officials from major technology companies will gather Wednesday to begin establishing a standard for Web services choreography, which is considered crucial to the growth of Web services usage for business processes.

Representatives from vendors such as BEA Systems Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., Oracle Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc. and Tibco Software Inc. will attend the initial meeting of the Web Services Choreography Working Group, formed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in January. The meeting is to be held at Oracle headquarters in Redwood Shores, Calif.

Noticeably absent, however, will be representatives of IBM and Microsoft, according to Martin Chapman, co-chairman of the working group and Oracle's director of Web services strategy.

"Microsoft and IBM are not participating because they have chosen not to," Chapman said.

The group will ponder potential choreography technologies such as Web Services Choreography Interface (WSCI), Business Process Specification Schema (BPSS) and Business Process Management Initiative (BPMI). Another specification, Business Process Execution Language for Web Services (BPEL4WS), from Microsoft, IBM and BEA, is not now being considered because it does not carry a royalty-free condition for its use, said group co-chairman Steve Ross-Talbot, who also is chief scientists at Enigmatec, in London .

A royalty-free condition is considered crucial to ensuring adoption of a technology by W3C, so that specific vendors will not be due royalties for each implementation of a specification. While IBM and BEA have expressed intentions to allow their technologies to be used in BPEL4WS without royalties, Microsoft has made no such declaration. BPEL4WS is being deployed in upcoming products from vendors such as BEA and Collaxa.

"We would like to have [BPEL4WS] as an input and we would welcome it with open arms," Ross-Talbot said.

The W3C working group will have two years to fulfill its charter, which includes delivery of at least two working or implemented products and a conformance suite, Chapman said.

A choreography language prescribes a way for designing process models between two or more Web services, Ross-Talbot said, adding that the specification concentrates on invoking a set of Web services in some orchestrated sequence.

"Web services as it's defined today [is] a bit like having a coffee machine with a bunch of buttons with absolutely no instructions outside the coffee machine, with absolutely no instructions on how to make a latte," Ross-Talbot said.

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